History of the Institute

Seafaring on the coasts of the Adriatic, and of the Mediterranean, has been developed since ancient times, giving evidence of early existence and development of navigational knowledge of the most favourable routes, channels, shelters, and harbours.

Many aids to navigation have been preserved, like nautical charts, portolans, descriptions of coasts with warnings to mariners, yet lacking precision because of absence of any kind of scientific investigations. The first important contribution to the development of the hydrographic activity in the Adriatic was made by the French hydrographer Beautemps-Beaupré, through his survey of the East Adriatic ports, bays and channels, conducted between 1806 and 1809. Marking the 200th anniversary of that survey, the HHI published its special edition entitled “Eastern Adriatic in the Work of Beautemps-Beaupré”.

In the first half of the 19th century, the survey and research in the Eastern Adriatic were continued by the Hydrographic Office of the Austro-Hungarian Navy founded in Trieste in 1860. They produced navigational charts at different scales (general, coastal, and harbour charts), nautical publications (pilots, lists of light, descriptions of coasts), and scientific papers dealing with astronomy, meteorology, oceanography, gravimetry, and geomagnetism.

From 1922, after the break-up of Austria-Hungary, the hydrographic activity continued at the Hydrographic Institute of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, in several centres, Tivat, Dubrovnik, and Split, during the Second World War in Hvar, Vis, and Monopoli, and by the end of 1944 finally in Split. That year marks the beginning of the true scientific development of the hydrographic service organised in the following departments: nautical, hydrographic, geodetic, oceanographic, aero-photogrammetric, cartographic, meteorological, and reproduction department. Through cooperation with hydrographic institutes of all maritime countries and membership in the International Hydrographic Organisation since 1922, the Institute has achieved valuable results and worldwide reputation.

During the Croatian War of Independence, all data, instruments and equipment have been preserved. Today’s Hydrographic Institute of Croatia has developed into a modern institution keeping up to date with current technological trends, following the recommendations of the IHO.